Man-Day Post: Alexa Toolbar, Yea or Nay?

In Blogging, Man-day by Jensguy16 Comments

I hate toolbars.

As a tech professional who gets called in to fix ailing computers the first thing I often notice is that the offender has so many toolbars on their browser that they can barely see any content.

And, nobody, not anyone anywhere, has purposely set Ask.com as their default homepage. Not even the guys who work there.

Just about all of these things were added for you, either by malware (likely) or they were “bundled” with something else that you downloaded and kind of forced themselves onto your browser real estate.  You should get rid of them.  They will slow down your browser terribly and some of them are actually low grade viruses that are transferring your browsing information to a third party.  Many of them won’t uninstall correctly, so you may need help.  If you find yourself in this situation, a good tool to help you, like an older brother with a schoolyard bully, is ADWcleaner.  You can get it at BleepingComputer.com.

Now that I have said that, I want you to go download a toolbar that will transfer your browsing information to a third party.  Well, “want” isn’t the right word, maybe “encourage.”  If you are a blogger that hopes to eventually see enough ad revenue to finance that end-of-the-month treat at Dairy Queen, it is absolutely vital that you do this.  Many of you might be familiar with the Alexa toolbar, for those that aren’t, let me acquaint you.

The Alexa Toolbar

Alexa isn’t run out of a basement in South Moscow, it was a California internet startup in 1996 that was acquired and has been operated by Amazon.com for the past 15 years.  That part is important, because you want a legit paper trail for these kind of things.  The purpose of the toolbar is to aggregate data and “rank” all of the sites on the internet, as well as collect analytics data on the users of each site.  The toolbar works much like a Nielson’s Ratings box works for Television ratings where the toolbar user stands as a sample for overall internet traffic.  Once the data from the toolbar is returned, every site on the entire internet is ranked, yours included.  You can actually get your ranking on their homesite. 

The big deal here is that everyone can see everyone else’s ranking, including advertisers.  Many advertisers use your Alexa ranking as a verification for whatever traffic number you report, because the information is public and easy to get.  Also, the higher the site is ranked, the harder it is to “game” the numbers.  As a measurement, it is far from perfect, but that doesn’t stop it from being widely used.

One way to “help” your numbers is to install the toolbar on your own browser.  Nobody visits your site more than you do.  Make sure that your daily visits are registered.  This will help immensely if your site is above 1,000,000 in the rankings, less so as you approach 100,000.  Additionally, installing the toolbar helps the entire “mommy” blogging community as your visits get accurately counted for every “mommy” blog you visit.  Because nobody is shedding a tear if the “mommy” blog community starts muscling past the video game bloggers.

Get the Toolbar

You can download the toolbar right here.  When installing the toolbar, opt out of all of the extra junk.  See:

What’s the downside?

Three things really:

1.  Because it is a toolbar helper that is passing information for ranking purposes, some virus scans will try to “tick” Alexa as a low level virus.  It isn’t and doesn’t need to be removed.  McAfee is REALLY bad about this.  We’ll talk about my dislike of McAfee another time.

2.  If you are Obsessive/Compulsive you probably shouldn’t be doing this.  Your ranking will depend on large part to actual traffic and aren’t really adjustable by brute force, like adding Twitter followers or soliciting Facebook likes.  If you live and die by tracking stats, this one can be frustrating as it is harder to “help” and is only adjusted once per day.

3.  Remember that “seeing everyone in their underwear” thing that I talked about with Klout?  Yeah, it’s even worse here as you can see the ranking for every single website you visit.  There is a measure of satisfaction, however, from seeing your blog outrank other sites that you visit every day that you thought were a lot more popular.  Jennifer’s site outranks most of the sports fan sites I go to as well as a lot of the local media websites.  Heh!

 

Next week’s Column: Ask a Techie!

For next week’s column, Jennifer has convinced me a to answer questions that any of you may have concerning anything tech.  Is there something you need help with on your blog? Go ahead and post your question in the comments section or email Jennifer using her link in the upper right corner of the site.  If it is specialized (It wouldn’t help other people in general), just email and I’ll get back to you personally.

Comments

    1. Good Girl. I think a lot of the toolbars come from “coupon finders” that purport to find coupons and discounts for every shopping site that you visit. They don’t really work that well and ALWAYS entail bringing along more stuff that you don’t want.

      As far as Alexa goes, you already have a very good Alexa ranking so adding the toolbar is only going to help you a little. One of the fun things it can do for you is show you just how well your site is doing in comparison to the rest of the internet. I can tell you now that there probably isn’t one radio station website with a higher ranking than yours, just for starters. People get paid to run those websites.

  1. Toolbars are sooo annoying. Thanks for this tip about Alexa though- its at least something I can do. Is there a stats provider you like better than Google Analytics?

    1. Actually your ranking is in a “sweet spot” where installing the toolbar to every computer you use to view your website with would have a pretty solid effect. And yes, we have Google Analytics plus statpress. I’ll go over statpress in the article next week.

  2. I use Chrome so I have the Alexa app “widget thingy” – I love it. As well as my Pinterest, Hootsuite and StumbleUpon widgets!

    Thanks for sharing.

    By the way, your posts on Bloglovin’ aren’t refreshing. This happened to me when I transferred my blog to WordPress. If you write to support@bloglovin.com they will fix it for you. They’re super helpful and fast!

    Wishing you a lovely day.
    xoxo
    Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom recently posted…How To Enjoy SummerMy Profile

  3. AHH! Too much information for me because I would stalk/compare the heck out of every blogger and fun site I visit. I just cant do it! And LOL at the “Ask.com” homepage. The only toolbar I have added is google. Too much clutter (and apparently too much info) drives me nuts. Great post!
    Rebecca recently posted…A Fit of the Fevers – Let Me Babysit!My Profile

    1. The Ask.com page can be a bugger to kill, just like Freddy Krueger. And yes, I have a list of sites that I am targeting that I crow about to my facebook friends when Jennifer passes them. None of them are other Mommy bloggers, just local sports, news, and politics sites. It only undates once a day so you can’t really follow it TOO religiously. . .

  4. So, I’m not going to lie to you, I’m not super-techy…. I don’t have much of a tool bar. I’ve hear of Alexa, and a part of me would like to install, but another part doesn’t want me to caught up in the numbers.
    Very informative post by the way, thanks!
    XOXO
    Mrs. AOK recently posted…Mommy Monday #BlogHop + The Lego Movie #GiveawayMy Profile

    1. You are also in a prime position to get the most from using the toolbar. I have to say that your US ranking is really good! By looking at your reporting it appears that most of your audience comes from the US which means that you are doing a wonderful job attracting viewers with social media. Any measure you can get can only reinforce the work you are already doing.

  5. You are correct that Safari doesn’t support the Alexa toolbar, there are extensions that will allow you to see Alexa stats, but those extensions will not report your visits back to Alexa, which is where the main utility comes from. Your site is doing well enough, I’m not sure it would help you at this point anyway. Congratulations!

  6. So here’s a question for you. I installed the toolbar on google chrome, and all it added was a little Alexa logo at the top right which does show me the rank of all the sites. Is that what was supposed to happen? It is kind of cool seeing all the rankings. Although I feel like maybe I’m going to get a little obsessed and crazy. . .Also have you done a post about how to write your content for good SEO? You should, if you haven’t. Because I try reading other posts and article about that and I can’t really follow what they’re saying. So you should write one that is very direct, with words I will understand. :)
    Leilani recently posted…When I fail as being the kind of mom who never yellsMy Profile

  7. I have been convinced that all toolbars were viruses for YEARS. Thank you for validating my suspicions! Also, THANK YOU for explaining Alexa to me. I’m sure my ranking is terrible. I need to install this toolbar on my parents’ computers…..
    April recently posted…10 Reasons Destin is My Favorite BeachMy Profile

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